NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.–The U.S. Navy expects the Government Accountability Office to sustain the service’s award last December to L3Harris Technologies [LHX] over competitor Northrop Grumman [NOC] for the Next Generation Jammer-Low Band (NGJ-LB).

That $496 million contract is for L3Harris to build four test pods and eight operational prototype pods (Defense Daily, Dec. 21, 2020).

“The EMD [engineering and manufacturing development] contract is under protest and has been since earlier this year,” Navy Capt. Michael Orr, the program manager for the Navy’s Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) Systems Program Office (PMA-234), said during an AEA briefing to the Sea Air Space conference here on Aug. 2. “We expect resolution on it very shortly, and I’m very confident with L3Harris and look forward to us getting relief from stop work and go forward and start getting that capability developed for the fleet.”

Orr said that just before the contract award, the Pentagon moved NGJ-LB from a mid-tier acquisition program to ACAT 1B.

Despite hardships imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Orr said that the NGJ-LB competitors were able to demonstrate their technologies and arrays at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., before the EMD award.

“These two companies were able to do that in the midst of the pandemic,” Orr said of the demonstrations. “Just think about March 2020 and where we were. We were able to have one company from New York City [Bethpage, N.Y.] and one company from Salt Lake City [L3Harris], and we were able to get them to Pax River safely with the help of NAVAIR, test and have them demonstrate their capabilities, and we never missed a beat. We hit every scheduled milestone that we had planned for.”

The Navy is replacing the legacy ALQ-99 tactical jammer used by EA-18G Growlers to counter enemy air defenses and communications systems, splitting the NGJ program into low, mid- and high-band frequency contract systems.

The NGJ-MB pod is designated the AM/ALQ-249(V)1. The NGJ-MB is also a cooperative program the Navy is jointly developing with Australia for both countries to use.

Raytheon originally won a $1 billion contract to design, build and test the NGJ-MB in 2016 (Defense Daily, April 15, 2016).